“Weather” Or Not to Knock Out?

An interesting play on words. A decision that leads to more questions than answers sometimes. I would like to share with you some of my ideas and answers to this question. As a volume sports photographer in Houston Texas, I deal with weather issues all the time. Certain times of the year we get all four seasons in one day. In Texas, in August, it’s hot. 97 degrees outside with 85% humidity. Add it to the fact that you are taking pictures on a turf field—the temperature gauge now reads 115 degrees. Celsius. Other days it feels like monsoon season. The only thing certain in this type of climate is Image2C will show up. And we will take your pictures at the scheduled day and time.

Let’s look at some of the other important issues surrounding these set of circumstances. We are talking about moving some type of outside sport shoot to an inside sport shoot. I have some coaches who have moved inside because of the heat and they will never go back outside again. The reason is because of our ability to “Knock Out” the background (and it’s so much cooler!). We all know coaches hate picture day. If the coach must reschedule picture day, he/she is going to lose more practice time and game preparation. Not a good thing for you. Before my KO days, a coach who needed to reschedule would have moved picture day to later or even at the end of the season.  This meant lost revenue for me. When rescheduled to the end of the season my revenue stream was reduced by up to 50%. Or sometimes it was worse than that—the coach didn’t reschedule at all.

Another factor to consider is what is the background going to look like? Are you going to take the pictures in an atrium or staircase in the school? Are you going to use a plain grey or other seamless backdrop? Or should you “Knock it Out”? By extracting the group and putting the picture into an enhanced background. I would think most of us as photographers are doing the latter. Even if we are going to “Knock Out” the pictures there are still several other things we must consider as the photographer. The two biggest factors with this situation are time and money. The one thing I have learned in volume sports photography is that time is money.

I’m not going to bore you with all the aspects of setting up the photoshoot. We all have our way of doing things and you must figure out what works best for you. Once you figure that out, just be consistent with it and make it part of your workflow. I would like to spend some time on the post-production piece. What software are you using for your extraction? How are you going to color correct all the images you took? What is your digital background going to look like? How many people are going to help you put this job together in your office? Or are you doing it all by yourself? These are all very important questions and they have a price tag attached to each of them. Your job as the business owner is to know what those prices are. Sometimes its actual dollars. Other times it’s not taking the next job because you are still busy knocking out images from the last one. So, my advice is to have a system in place and make sure it’s good business. The last thing you want to do is spend a bunch of extra time and money replacing backgrounds when your prices don’t cover the expense.

As a photographer and a business owner I’m faced with more questions than answers sometimes. For me the answer to the question “To Knock Out or Not?” is an easy one. It’s an easy one for me because I know how all the pieces of this puzzle are going to be put together. I know the coach is not going to have to reschedule picture day. I know that I’m not going to lose revenue from the parents paying for their child’s picture. I know how we are going to take the pictures. I know what the post-production piece is going to be and how we are going to execute all the factors involved. I know because the answer is H&H Color Lab. They have all the pieces under one roof. From Order Entry Services, printing and packaging, extraction services, online sales and other quality products and services.

This blog is not intended to be an advertisement for H&H Color Lab. Even though they are great at what they do. It’s intended to show you as a photographer and business owner how you can grow your business. How you can scale your business by using other assets. When I started in this business 5 years ago, I was working with about 18 schools. As I developed a relationship and started to use H&H Color Lab, I have since expanded to working with over 100 schools in the greater Houston area. We all know it’s not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and time to develop your business. But when you have the right business partner who is going to take care of so many aspects of the day to day business, all you have to do is grow your business.

Clay Middleton

This article was written by Clay Middleton. He is the owner of Image 2C. He specializes in volume sports photography taking Team and Individual pictures.  Image 2C develops relationships and partner with schools, youth sport leagues and parents in their community.

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